News Coverage of the Trump Indicted Story

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

The New York Times had the scoop blared across its homepage in big, bold letters:


It’s the exact same headline — with the same big, bold letters — that could be found on the websites of CNN, The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

We’ve known the details of this case for some time now. We knew that former President Donald Trump could be indicted. Yet, if possible, remove everything you’ve come to learn over the past seven years since Trump became president and attempt to read the opening paragraph by Times reporters Ben Protess, Jonah E. Bromwich and William K. Rashbaum with fresh eyes:

“Donald J. Trump was indicted in Manhattan on Thursday for his role in paying hush money to a porn star, according to five people with knowledge of the matter, a historic development that will shake up the 2024 presidential race and forever mark him as the nation’s first former president to face criminal charges.”

The key words in that sentence — hush money, porn star, historic development, 2024 presidential race, first former president to face criminal charges — should be greeted with incredulity and astonishment.

And, despite Americans having grown accustomed to the circus that surrounds Trump, the news truly was stunning.

Here’s what it looked like when Wolf Blitzer announced the news on CNN. Blitzer called it “historic breaking news.” CNN, which now loathes using its “Breaking News” banner, made the right call by dusting it off and slapping it on the screen. It truly was breaking news.

“ABC World News Tonight” anchor David Muir called it “unprecedented.” CNN’s Jake Tapper called it an “all-new world.”

“Fox News Sunday” moderator Shannon Bream said, “This makes history.”

Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier said, “This is a wow moment” and we are now in “unprecedented territory.” ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl echoed those words, saying, “We are truly in uncharted territory.”

Karl noted that Trump is not just the first former president to be indicted, but he is currently the leading presidential candidate of his party. “And,” Karl said, “Trump has made it perfectly clear that he would not be deterred from running if he were indicted.”

Showing excellent hustle, ABC News executive editorial producer John Santucci spoke with Trump before Thursday evening’s “World News Tonight” newscast. According to Santucci, Trump sounded relaxed and told him, “This is an attack on our country” and called it a “political persecution.”

But, NBC News’ Chuck Todd said during the “NBC Nightly News,” “He really does fear this. He’s spent his entire life fighting the law … either via his businesses or recently his forays into politics.”

Now we wait.

It’s likely that Trump won’t be arraigned until next week, but those details are being worked out between the Manhattan district attorney’s office and Trump’s representatives. Until then, we won’t even officially know what’s in the indictment, which is still sealed. Even Trump doesn’t know yet what’s in the indictment, and likely won’t until he is arraigned.

Politico’s Erica Orden reported that the Manhattan district attorney’s office wanted Trump to surrender today, but Trump’s team said it needed more time to coordinate with the Secret Service.

CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller said on air, “A date will be set for an arraignment. That date will be the same date he surrenders.”

Miller, who reported that Trump might face as many as 34 charges, said Trump likely will be fingerprinted and have his mug shot taken, but he will still be, because he’s the president, protected by Secret Service, and is going to be released on his own recognizance.

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who covers and knows Trump as well as anyone, said on CNN, “This caught Mar-a-Lago and Trump advisers very much by surprise. … They are in something of shock. (But) I think they will move past that very quickly. I think you will see Trump get very aggressive about (Manhattan District Attorney Alvin) Bragg.”

Haberman went on to say, “This is not a moment Donald Trump wanted. It’s a moment that he’s been avoiding for many, many, many decades — being indicted criminally. It may help him politically. There are reasons to believe this case in particular could with his base. But nobody wants an indictment and Donald Trump is not an exception.”

GOP strategist and former Trump campaign adviser David Urban said on CNN, “I don’t think Donald Trump wants attention this way. You’ll see the president being defiant, I think, and pushing back harder than you’ve ever seen him before.”

Other notable pieces about the latest on the Trump indictment:

The Washington Post’s Perry Stein with “Trump is indicted in N.Y. Here’s what it means and what happens next.”

The Washington Post’s editorial board with “The Trump indictment is a poor test case for prosecuting a former president.” The board wrote, “Breaches of campaign finance law undermine democracy and deserve to be taken seriously. Yet the potential downsides of indicting Mr. Trump ought to be taken seriously, too. This prosecution is now bound to be the test case for any future former president, as well as, of course, proceedings against this former president in particular — of which there are plenty.” They added, “Public perception and political strategy shouldn’t dissuade a district attorney from bringing a solid case, but neither should they persuade him to bring a shaky one. This prosecution needs to be airtight. Otherwise, it’s not worth continuing.”

Los Angeles Times columnist Mark Z. Barabak with “Scandal after scandal, Trump has defied political physics. Will this time be different?” Barabak notes Trump’s ability to wriggle out of scandals and troubles, but wrote, “There is a strong case to be made, however, that things have changed — that Trump’s ability to defy political physics may have ended and his scot-free days are behind him.”

PolitiFact’s Becca Schimmel and Amy Sherman with “Timeline: What Donald Trump has said about Stormy Daniels and $130,000 payment.”

Speak Your Mind